JF –v– HSE
The minor Plaintiff was born at a regional maternity hospital in 2002. His delivery was complicated by shoulder dystocia - a condition involving the impaction of the child’s shoulder on the mother’s symphsis pubis as he descended the birth canal. Management of this occurrence should involve the performance of the McRoberts’ manoeuvre together with the application of supra-pubic pressure in an effort to release the impacted shoulder. If these steps are taken there is a much greater likelihood of the safe delivery of the child. It is accepted that there is a temptation for obstetric staff to administer excessive traction in an effort to deliver the child but to do so is considered sub-standard care and can result in irreversible damage to a specific bundle of nerves known as the brachial plexus. This is further so when excessive traction is applied in the absence of any attempt at the recognised manoeuvres. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that conducts signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand. Damage to those nerves may cause symptoms to include a limp or paralyzed arm; lack of muscle control in the arm, hand, or wrist; and a lack of feeling or sensation in the arm or hand.
It was alleged by the Plaintiff’s experts that there was a failure on the part of the obstetric staff to recognise the shoulder dystocia and manage it appropriately. It was also alleged that there was excessive force used by the obstetric registrar in delivering the Plaintiff which resulted in his suffering damage to his left brachial plexus nerves and developing a mild to moderate Erbs Palsy. Liability was admitted by the Defendant in its Defence and the case was listed for hearing to assess the damages payable. Negotiations were conducted on the first day of hearing and a final offer made in sum of €340,000 in addition to the Plaintiff’s legal costs. This offer was duly approved by Mr Justice Sean Ryan in the High Court.
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08 February 2013